Release Day Picks: March 22nd New Albums
Each week Release Day Picks profiles new LPs and EPs Team JamBase will be checking out on release day Friday. This week we highlight new albums by Strand of Oaks, Ghost Light, Jenny Lewis, Luther Dickinson and Sisters of the Strawberry Moon, Andrew Bird, Bill MacKay and Head for the Hills. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
Strand Of Oaks – Eraserland
The Scoop: “I had thought for a moment Strand of Oaks might be over until a text from my friend, Carl Broemel, changed all that,” said Strand Of Oaks founder Timothy Showalter. “Unbeknownst to me, four members of My Morning Jacket and Kevin Ratterman booked studio time to record songs I didn’t think I’d ever write. But they believed I could and pulled me back from the brink. At last, the songs came–and quickly morphed into everything I’ve ever worked toward as this band.” Showalter played guitar while backed by fellow guitarist Boroemel and the latter’s MMJ band mates, bassist Tom Blankenship, keyboardist Bo Koster and drummer Patrick Hallahan during sessions held at Louisville’s La La Land Studio. The 11-song follow-up to 2017’s Hard Love and its 2018 companion Harder Love also features contributions from guitarist Jason Isbell and vocalist Emma Ruth Rundle.
Ghost Light – Best Kept Secrets
The Scoop: Ghost Light may have waited over a year after forming to release an album, but the group actually started the project in the studio. Guitarists Tom Hamilton and Raina Mullen, bassist Steve Lyons, pianist Holly Bowling and drummer Scotty Zwang came together for the first time at a 4,000 square foot former Chrysler factory in Philadelphia. Today, the quintet shares Best Kept Secrets with the world. The nine-track album features songs that came together collaboratively and set up in a large circle to record everything live. Ghost Light wasn’t going for perfection they were going for honesty. “I think of this album like a bunch of abstract paintings,” said Hamilton. “We present the songs as a series meant to be experienced in a certain order, but at the end of the day, whatever that series makes you feel is totally up to you.”
Jenny Lewis – On The Line
The Scoop: After nearly a five-year layoff Jenny Lewis returns with her fourth solo album, On The Line. In the years between, the former Rilo Kiley frontwoman dealt with the death of her once-estranged mom and the end of her 12-year relationship with singer-songwriter Johnathan Rice, both of which helped inform the material on her new LP. The 11-track effort was recorded at Capitol Records’ famed Studio B and finds Lewis backed by an impressive lineup of musicians that includes Beck, Ringo Starr, Benmont Tench, Don Was and Jim Keltner.
Luther Dickinson & Sisters Of The Strawberry Moon – Solstice
The Scoop: North Mississippi Allstars guitarist Luther Dickinson put together a new project entitled Luther Dickinson & Sisters Of The Strawberry Moon. The group’s debut album, Solstice, is out today via New West Records. Luther recruited an all-star batch of performers to join him in recording the 12-song LP at his family’s Zebra Ranch Studio in Independence, Mississippi. Amy Helm, Amy LaVere, Birds of Chicago, Sharde Thomas and the Como Mamas contributed to the record. “The whole idea of this album was to introduce a bunch of friends and get them to collaborate with each other,” said Dickinson. “I wanted to let the chemistry flow, to create an environment where everyone’s flavors naturally blended together and each artist could just be themselves. I think you can feel that freedom in the music. Most of the work was in getting the spark lit,” he says of assembling the all-star cast. “It was sort of like throwing a party. Once you manage to get everybody together, you can just step back and let it all happen.”
Andrew Bird – My Finest Work Yet
The Scoop: Multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, whistler and songwriter Andrew Bird “went for that Rudy Van Gelder jazz room sound where the instruments bleed in to all the mics in just the right way” when recording his new album, My Finest Work Yet. Out now on Loma Vista, My Finest Work was recorded live to tape at Barefoot Studios in Los Angeles with producer Paul Butler. Joining Bird during the sessions were Blake Mills on guitar, Madison Cunningham on vocals, Alan Hampton on bass and Ted Poor on drums. The track “Archipelago” also features drummer Abraham Rounds and guitarist Mile Viola. “There is a certain optimism to this record,” said Bird. “It’s pretty up musically though it doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the lyrics.” The 10-song My Finest Work Yet follows Bird’s 2016 album Are You Serious.
Bill MacKay – Fountain Fire
The Scoop: Chicago-based guitarist/composer Bill MacKay returns with his first solo effort since his 2017 Drag City release, Esker. Out today on Drag City, Fountain Fire also follows MacKay’s collaborative LP with former Chicago-based guitarist Ryley Walker, SpiderBeetleBee, that came out in 2017 as well. Written, performed and produced by MacKay, the multi-talented musician played guitar, bass, piano, percussion, organ, glass slide, requinto and added vocal parts across the record’s eight tracks. The album is described as, “In and out of focus in a hallucinogenic haze … The picker journeys sonically from familiar to unknown places, a style suspended between the traditional and the avant-garde, expansive and flowing like boiled-over magma.”
Head For The Hills – Say Your Mind
The Scoop: Colorado’s Head For The Hills put together a four-song EP that continues the band’s genre-bending ways. The 15-year-old group assembled at Swingfingers Studios in Fort Collins, Colorado and came away with Say Your Mind. Collaborators include Elephant Revival drummer Darren Garvey, dobro/lap steel wiz Todd Livingston, vocalist Kim Dawson, guitarist Mike Tallman and keyboardist James Thomas. Head For The Hills also utilized a full horn section for Say Your Mind. “Developing songs for the new EP and playing with this extended lineup has been very liberating. Suddenly it feels like there are zero limitations,” said guitarist Adam Kinghorn.
Compiled by Jeffrey Greenblatt, Andy Kahn and Scott Bernstein.